New Bodrum Edition Hotel Signals Comeback of Turkey's Glamorous Riviera
Bodrum is rejoining the ranks of summertime party capitals like Ibiza and Mykonos.
BY ADAM ROBB
September 19, 2018
The surest way to find the gate for your flight to Bodrum? Follow Turkey’s reemergent creative class, scantily clad in little more than sunscreen, as they queue up for a weekend departure from Istanbul’s Ataturk airport. With political tumult within Turkey waning, foreign yachts are once again anchoring in the harbors surrounding Yalikavak marina, as scores of English socialites claim the prime waterfront tables at Nus-Ret and Zuma. Bodrum, the crown jewel of the Turkish Riviera, is rejoining the ranks of summertime party capitals like Ibiza and Mykonos.
The boom is a welcome relief to Turks, too; popping down the shore is an easy cure to the feeling of isolation that permeates their cultural capital. (While Istanbul remains divided between two continents, it’s more homogenous than ever.) Bodrum’s renaissance is largely the result of massive local and international reinvestment along the Turkish Riviera over the past two summers—from the opening of bohemian beachfront Club Marvy in Izmir south to the mountaintop Six Senses Kaplankaya.
Last summer, the latter remodeled a former Canyon Ranch resort and reopened, appealing to New Age creatives; contemporary works by the Brooklyn artist KAWS hang on the walls, and the spa now offers emotional detox sessions, where masseuses cradle clients afloat in private indoor pools. Across the bay, homegrown hotelier Sahir Erozan has expanded the sundecks at his old-school celebrity haunt, Maçakizi, to keep up with the next generation. Younger guests filter past incognito rock stars and supermodels, who have returned to bask in the afterglow of their heydays; stewards now unfurl artful canopies over every chair, blocking out the paparazzi. (They’re back, too.) Now, Edition Hotel has opened an outpost in Bodrum, cementing the region’s renewed viability as a top-tier destination. These rocky shores are only bracing for a fresh tide of American glamour.
“We want people to feel comfortable, dressed or not,” says hospitality legend Ian Schrager, the mastermind of Studio 54 in New York, who serves as Edition Hotels’ creative director. He calls the democratic aesthetic at this latest retreat “bathrobe chic.”
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The Bodrum Edition’s grounds are best described as a natural amphitheater, a cliffside cascading with olive trees now replanted on every balcony—which every room has. Such subtle touches define Schrager’s brand. “Sustainability is critical, and we diligently follow that philosophy,” he says, “not because of marketing but because it’s the right thing to do.”
This seems to have resonated. Curious neighbors and an international jet set poured through the billowing white curtains of Bodrum Edition’s hilltop lobby, and fashion plates quickly joined them. Actor-jeweler Waris Ahluwalia and Common Leisure designer Seda Celikturk have been seen on the premises, shuffling the stone steps between Brava, a nighttime grill helmed by El Bulli alumnus Diego Munoz, and Discetto, which Schrager deems a “new genre of baby [night]club.” (Petanque in the courtyard, a DJ booth behind glass doors, tropical cocktails…) Below, a man-made white-sand beach tapers toward Escape ’74, a seasonal pop-up shop curated by creative agency Istanbul 74; it currently hosts Turkish menswear designer Umit Benan’s first retail boutique in his home country, ensuring that the aforementioned bathrobes sport local flair.
“We’re doing something sophisticated,” says Schrager. “We didn’t want to fall into the clichés of a [certain] location.”
And while he insists that Edition carry its own American swagger into each new market—there are 40 new properties in the works, with locations in Barcelona, Shanghai, and Times Square to open this year—Schrager firmly believes each property should be rooted in the local terroir. When it comes to Bodrum, his mind is made up.
“We focus on the fundamentals, on the intrinsic values of what we see in the location, and those things change—the markets, the political climate, tourists numbers…” Schrager says. “The ebb and flow of current events keep changing, but we’ll be staying here.”